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Rewarding persistence

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-09 07:00
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An installation titled Suspension by Meng Boshen, winner of last year's Wang Shikuo Award. [Photo provided to China Daily]

An award by two cultural institutions in Beijing gives artists who persevere a chance to showcase their talent.

Meng Boshen's current one-man show at Beijing's Today Art Museum, which runs through Wednesday, features only two site-specific installations whose materials are entirely natural: One is a tree suspended in midair and the other is a pile of stones spread over the ground.

The two works at Observing Reality through Smears are Meng's latest productions that continue the 38-year-old Beijing-based artist's distinctive work approach - using black pencils to smudge all over the surface of the objects in his creation.

"Once I used pencils to try to draw as precisely as I could, but I found that what I depicted was not real but an illusion," he says.

"Now I enjoy the repetition of strokes covering the objects in black, and in time I immerse myself in a world of pure blackness and an austere style of work, through which I find inner peace."

In Suspension, chopped parts of a tree that Meng found at a demolition site in a Beijing suburb are hung in midair

The other of Meng's installation, River. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The other work River shows cobblestones carefully arranged on the floor. The tree chunks and the stones were all smudged using pencils.

Meng uses this slow, seemingly meaningless approach to express an attitude against the hustle and impetuous mood of society. Further, he explores the relationship between one's belief and social development, and between people and nature.

Li Xianting, a prominent art curator, says the fallen tree in Suspension makes the audience relate to a lot of other trees that share the same fate thanks to the fast-paced urbanization; the tree symbolizes not just its kind but the lives of people influenced during that process.

River, which Meng created earlier this year, derives from his curiosity about the sky and stars. So, he collected dozens of stones, and he arranged them to resemble a dry riverbed or the Milky Way. And he mixed them with Yuhua stones, a special kind of pebble unique to Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

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